Ambitious plans: Pastor Leroy Bean cites White’s Island as a suitable location at which to provide help for young people. *File photo
Ambitious plans: Pastor Leroy Bean cites White’s Island as a suitable location at which to provide help for young people. *File photo
White’s Island could be used as a rehabilitation and training centre for youngsters involved with anti-social behaviour.

Details have yet to be finalized but the Bermuda Sun understands that anti-gang organization CARTEL has a lease for the island in Hamilton Harbour to use as a base for its programmes.

Pastor Leroy Bean, who runs the group, said rumours that a juvenile prison was being built on the site were unfounded and irresponsible.

But he said his group was the new tenant at White’s Island and was planning to use it as a safe haven for young people to get therapeutic care and vocational training.

He said it was not just aimed at ‘at-risk’ youth but would include preventative programmes as well.

“We’ve been looking at islands for over a year to use as a base to work with young people on a consistent basis.

“We will bring a mix of vocational training as well as the educational component to try to bring balance to people’s lives.”

He said the group was still working on securing funding for paid full-time staff but could potentially begin programmes on the island with its own voluntary workforce in the next few months.

The contractual negotiations are said to be ongoing and Government was not in a position to comment yesterday.

Disappointed

Pastor Bean said he was disappointed that news of the plan had been broken in an inaccurate press release from the Voters’ Rights Association.

The VRA, co-chaired by Stuart Hayward and Geoff Parker, raised questions over the future of the island after individuals and organisations that have boat moorings close by were told to move them before the year’s end.

The statement speculated that if White’s Island was to become a youth prison it could have ‘double barbed wire fences’ and a ‘guard tower’ that would depreciate from the views of the multi-million dollar offices on Front Street.

Pastor Bean said nothing of that kind was planned for the island and insisted all CARTEL’s programmes would be voluntary.

He added: “I’m a little surprised at Stuart Hayward to bring this out like that. I thought he would think and find out more information before releasing a misleading press statement like that.

“We need to stop making everything political and start thinking about what is best for Bermuda.”

He added that the issue over the moorings had arisen after his organization had been told there were no moorings available for the island.

“All the spots were gone for people’s personal business. There were two barges that had trash on them — it was a sight.

“The boats and barges were tied in a spot that once had a floating dock, which would indicate that some encroachment had taken place for someone’s personal gain.

“These individuals did not want to move and posed all sorts of objections which is why the issue of the moorings arose.”

Gang lifestyles

CARTEL has been responsible for assisting young people involved with gang lifestyles in getting off the island and into rehabilitation programmes overseas.

Pastor Bean said he hoped the island would allow the group to work with more young people and to help them change their lifestyles without having to leave Bermuda.

“The island is ideal because it separates them from their environment. Between 60 and 70 percent of rehabilitation is about separation. You need a safe environment away from outside influences.”

Mr. Hayward, of the VRA, said speculation about the future of the island had been rife for weeks.

He said his organisation’s press release simply restated rumours that were circulating in the community and called on the Government to keep voters updated about what it was doing with public land.

“This is what happens when information is not readily available — people speculate.

“I have no dog in this fight. I have no interest in developing rumours. This is an issue that has been circulating for some time and no official information has been forthcoming.”